photo: Brian Guiney

South Downtown Design + Activation (Soda)

The project seeks to develop a comprehensive vision for the design, implementation and stewardship of the public spaces within San Francisco's South Downtown (composed of the Transbay and Rincon Hill Planning areas), and in doing so, create implementable designs that foster vibrant streets and open spaces, support high performing transit operations, and encourage active transportation choices for the people who live, work and visit the district.

Implementation Update 7/6/2020

Minna-Natoma Art Corridor Conceptual Design and Curatorial Vision

As part of the larger South Downtown Design and Activation Plan (detailed below), Minna and Natoma Streets have been identified as key pedestrian connections, particularly the segments of Minna and Natoma that link the Transit Center and the Yerba Buena Gardens. In recognition of these streets’ potential, the City has collaborated with the SFMOMA and the Yerba Community Benefits District to form the Minna-Natoma Art Corridor Project.

The project will transform four blocks of Minna and Natoma Streets into a vibrant pedestrian connections with art deeply integrated into the streetscape and private property sites along the corridor. 

Throughout 2019, the project team worked with neighborhood stakeholders to understand challenges and opportunities along these key corridors. Based on this input, the project team developed a curatorial vision and conceptual streetscape designs for the four-block corridor. The vision and draft streetscape designs were presented at a virtual stakeholder workshop on June 23, 2020.

This plan will be co-authored by The East Cut Community Benefit District (CBD). By collaborating with the CBD, the city will be in close contact with the neighborhood needs and desires from this planning effort. Consolidating our efforts will lead to quicker outcomes and a more cohesive strategy for the neighborhood

The South Downtown Design and Activation Plan will provide a framework for designing, implementing and managing the public realm in the emergent neighborhood surrounding the Transbay Terminal and Rincon Hill. The plan area covers a quadrant of roughly 30 blocks of the city bounded by Market Street, The Embarcadero, Bryant Street and 2nd Street.

Fifteen years ago, much of the district was characterized by surface parking lots and light industrial land uses. Today, the district is experiencing a wave of development by both public sector actors. This development reflects the legacy of roughly fifteen years of city planning efforts for the district.

The construction of the Transbay Transit Center will greatly improve access to Downtown, especially from the East Bay while a wave of new residential and commercial high-rises (over 20 at last count) will, in addition to permanently altering the city's skyline, dramatically increase the volume of people living, working and visiting the area.

This plan will be co-authored by The East Cut Community Benefit District (CBD). By collaborating with the CBD, the city will be in close contact with the neighborhood needs and desires from this planning effort. Consolidating our efforts will lead to quicker outcomes and a more cohesive strategy for the neighborhood.

Finalizing the Soda Plan

The Soda team hosted two large community open houses in May 2019. These open houses mark the final major outreach events of the Soda planning process. Moving forward, outreach efforts will shift from district-level planning to implement specific streetscape corridor projects within the South Downtown, such as the Minna-Natoma Art Corridor project discussed above.

The May 2019 open houses included content on a broad range of issues related to streets and open space that  were generated through the planning process and will be included in final Soda Plan.
The open houses included content on:

  • Streetscape Prioritization – revenue generated by property taxes and developments impact fees within the plan area to improve streets in the neighborhood.
  • Walk, Bike and Transit Networks for the South Downtown, including new transit service in Rincon Hill and proposed protected bikeways (cycle tracks) on Beale and Howard Streets.
  • Conceptual Streetscape Designs for future sidewalk widenings in the South Downtown; and
  • Design concepts for a potential new public open space underneath the Bay Bridge at the foot of Spear Street.
  • Click here to learn more about these and other Soda Plan outcomes presented at the May 2019 Open House!

Plan Area


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Spring 2017 Interagency Coordination; Background Research
Summer 2017 Develop communications plan
August 2, 2017 First Outreach Event: Kickoff and Project Overview
August - December 2017 Focused Outreach Events, Lunch-and-Learns
September 10, 2017 Walking Tour and Street Party
October 30, 2017 Community Workshop Number 2
May 5, 2018 Spear Street Cul-de-Sac Park Pop-up Party
Spring 2018 Soda Studio: Focused pop-up lunchtime outreach events for office workers
Spring 2018 Pop-up Planning Office at 160 Spear Street
Spring 2019 Focused Outreach Events to Property Owners, Tenants and Merchants along Corridors with Near-Term Streetscape Projects
May 16 & 18, 2019 Community Workshop Number 3
July 31, 2019 Minna/Natoma Art Corridor Stakeholder Workshop #1
June 23, 2020 Minna/Natoma Art Corridor Virtual Stakeholder Workshop #2
Winter 2020 Plan Approvals


Minna/Natoma Art Corridor Virtual Stakeholder Workshop #2 – June 23, 2020

Minna/Natoma Art Corridor Stakeholder Workshop #1  – July 31, 2019

Community Open House 3 – May 16 & 18, 2019

Pop-Up Party to Explore Potential Future Park in Spear Street Cul-de-Sac – May 5, 2018

Community Open House 2 – October 30, 2017

Community Open House 1 – August 2, 2017